The Texas Rangers’ newest players are giving the team plenty of hope for the future.
The Rangers acquired Saltalamacchia from Atlanta in a trade on July 31 that sent slugging first baseman Mark Teixeira to the Braves. Saltalamacchia is hitting just .161 (5-for-31) in seven games since joining Texas, but drove in the tiebreaking run with a sixth-inning double in Tuesday’s 8-6 win.
“The fans are great and the ballpark plays good,” said Saltalamacchia, a rookie who hit .284 with four homers in 47 games with the Braves.
Saltalamacchia wasn’t the only new addition to star on Tuesday. Starter Kason Gabbard, also acquired on July 31 in a deal that sent closer Eric Gagne to Boston, threw six strong innings to earn the win in his home debut.
“I always have hope,” Rangers rookie manager Ron Washington said. “Those guys have done a great job since coming on.”
The Rangers could certainly use some hope - they’ve posted a winning record just once in their last seven seasons and haven’t reached the postseason since 1999. Tuesday’s win ended a five-game losing streak, Texas’ third of at least five games this season.
C.J. Wilson earned his third save in three chances since Gagne’s departure.
Oakland, meanwhile, lost despite homers from Shannon Stewart and Mark Ellis. Ellis has 15 homers, leaving him one short of tying the franchise’s all-time record for most homers by a second baseman, set by Jimmy Dykes in 1921 and matched by Davey Lopes in 1983.
“We had some nice at-bats and kept battling,” Oakland first-year manager Bob Geren told the A’s official Web site. “I liked the way we swung the bats. Eleven hits and six runs is good enough for a ‘W’ on most nights.”
In the finale, Geren will hand the ball to Lenny DiNardo (5-6, 3.19 ERA), who began the season in the bullpen but will make his 13th start. He’s 4-5 with a 3.96 ERA as a starter this season.
“When I went into the rotation, obviously it was a fill-in situation,” he said. “But I think I’ve made the most of it so far.”
DiNardo gave up three runs in six innings without getting a decision in an 8-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday. He is 1-1 with a 1.45 ERA in five career appearances - two starts - against the Rangers.
Texas counters with Kevin Millwood (7-9, 5.98), who is coming off a pair of disappointing outings. He lasted just four innings while giving up three runs on Friday, but escaped without a decision in the Rangers’ 6-4 loss in Toronto.
Millwood is 3-2 with a 3.48 ERA in seven career starts against the A’s, but has lost his last two outings against them. He allowed four runs - one earned - in six innings of a 6-0 loss in Oakland on July 18, his lone start this season against them.